Are Boxer Dogs Dangerous?

Few of us think of our Boxers as “dangerous”, so aggression in a Boxer dog tends to take the owner by surprise.

Boxers, like any dog, can be dangerous — usually as a result of aggression directed towards other dogs, which may then envelop people who try to break up the fight.

Occasionally Boxers have mauled people, including a few fatal attacks.

(Then again, so have Labradors.)

Some insurance companies do regard Boxers as a dangerous breed, refusing to insure your home if you own a Boxer.

As Boxer owners, it’s important to understand the Boxer temperament and manage potential triggers for aggression from errors in socialization to situational dynamics.

If your Boxer wants to fight other dogs, he is liable to put you at risk — both legally and physically — not to mention himself, since dangerous dogs are usually euthanized.

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Do Boxer Dogs Attack Humans?

It’s common for Boxer owners to react with dismay to the idea their dog could be dangerous.

“He wouldn’t hurt a fly”, they insist.

But Boxers do figure fairly prominently in dog attack statistics.

A somewhat dated study examining the three decades up to 2014 rated Boxers as the eighth most dangerous dog breed.

Over the 30-year period, Boxers were responsible for:

  • 74 reported dog attacks causing serious bodily harm
  • 9 deaths
  • 37 maimings

According to the study, this makes Boxers more dangerous than other dogs commonly considered fierce, such as Akitas and Chow Chows.

But that study is not particularly current.

To find the most recent fatal attacks on people by Boxers, you have to go back several years to 2019 when Boxers or Boxer mixes killed two Americans or were responsible for four per cent of fatal dog attacks.

These stats put Boxers on a par with two other breeds also responsible for two deaths each in that 12 month period:

  • Australian Cattle Dogs
  • German Shepherds

To put that in perspective, this makes Boxers less dangerous than:

  • Rottweilers
  • American Pit Bull Terriers (responsible for the vast majority of fatal dog attacks)
  • Mixed breed dogs

According to the nonprofit group DogsBite.org, in the 15 years from 2005 to 2019, 35 different breeds were involved in fatal dog attacks.

Aside from the breeds already mentioned, the Colorado-based Fuicelli and Lee Injury Lawyers adds a few more to the dangerous list, namely:

  • Bull Mastiffs
  • Huskies
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Wolf Hybrids

What’s clear is no single breed has a monopoly on violence.

As with people, there can be bad eggs in an otherwise good group.

Likewise, a good dog put in a bad situation can react violently.

What Makes A Boxer Dog Dangerous?

A few features of the Boxer — some physical, others temperament-based — can make them potentially dangerous if they do attack.

Boxers have:

  • Large stature
  • Strong, muscular physique
  • Excitable personality
  • Strong bite

What does this mean for the average Boxer owner?

How Boxer Owners Can Prevent Their Dogs Becoming Dangerous

As Boxer owners, it’s worth keeping several things in mind in order to prevent your Boxer ever being involved in a violent incident.

Remember:

  • Training and control are essential with Boxers
  • You also have to know your dog and be honest with yourself about his temperament and behavior
  • Keep in mind that just because your Boxer has never shown aggression in the past, it doesn’t mean he’s not capable of it if the right (wrong!) buttons are pushed
  • Be conscious of the limitations of your Boxer’s experience and socialization and what blind spots that might create
  • Always be cautious whenever you put your Boxer into an unfamiliar situation
  • Supervise closely unless and until you are 100 per cent confident he can be trusted
  • Don’t expect too much of your Boxer — as a member of a different species living amongst us, he will never be 100 per cent predictable in all situations

Sometimes, of course, you can do everything right and still things go wrong.

Are You Responsible If Your Boxer Attacks Someone?

An owner whose roaming Boxers attacked a boy and his grandmother in El Paso, Texas (home to more dog attacks than any other state except for California) received several citations.

Elsewhere in Texas, in Cypress, a police officer shot a Boxer after he said it injured him and then charged him and his own dog.

O’Hara Law Firm, which handles dog attack cases, says in both cases the owners of the dogs would be seen as negligent and legally responsible for the victims’ injuries because the Boxers were not properly restrained, as required by Texas law.

Injuries from dog attacks from puncture and tear wounds to broken bones and torn tendons, as well as being traumatizing events.

Victims are entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, with owners required to foot the bill for medical treatment, lost wages and ongoing care among other things.

In another Texan case, a toddler was hospitalized in Lake Worth after crawling through a dog door into the backyard and being attacked by several Boxers.

In this instance, the Boxers were properly contained in their own backyard, but had shown signs of aggression in the past.

Dog bite attorney Patrick O’Hara says even though the dogs were appropriate restrained, the owner would still be liable because of the known history of aggression.

What To Do If Your Boxer Is Dangerous

If you have a Boxer you know (or suspect) could pose a threat to other dogs or people, the onus is on you to prevent an attack.

Putting your Boxer’s aggression in the too hard basket is not an option, given the stakes.

Yet, you won’t fix reactivity overnight.

In the meantime, you can:

  • Ensure your Boxer is securely fenced in
  • Muzzle your Boxer if unexpectedly forced to be in close proximity with other dogs or people
  • Avoid putting your Boxer in contact with other people or animals (except as part of a controlled desensitization program)
  • Make sure your Boxer has a secure harness and heavy duty leash with quality fixtures that won’t snap under pressure
  • Get help

Some owners medicate their Boxers in a bid to control aggression — don’t.

How Do You Train An Aggressive Boxer Dog?

Shutting your Boxer off from the world is only a short-term strategy.

If your Boxer never has a chance to get used to being around other people and dogs, he will likely remain reactive.

Part of the issue may be a lack of exposure, or a lack of appropriate exposure during key developmental windows.

Exposure on its own won’t magically resolve reactivity.

The key is to coordinate the exposures in a controlled, gradual way while teaching your Boxer alternate, incompatible and calm behaviors.

You want your Boxer to learn new ways to interact, not simply repeat and further ingrain the undesirable, aggressive behavior.

This is one occasion where you may need to engage the services of a professional.

Look for a qualified dog behaviorist who:

  • Is experienced with Boxers
  • Has a proven track record in correcting aggression
  • Prefers positive reinforcement methods

Has A Boxer Dog Ever Killed A Person?

Sadly, it’s not without reason that some people are wary of Boxers.

Boxers have been responsible for a very small number of fatal attacks on humans.

In 2006 a 56-year-old Florida man was mauled to death by his employer’s male Boxer after entering the dog’s pen.

Three years later in Louisiana, a four-year-old boy was attacked and killed by the neighbour’s three Boxers while playing in his yard.

The dogs had been let out of their kennel while it was cleaned.

Do Boxers Attack Their Owners?

Boxers can direct their aggression towards their own families.

In 2013 64-year-old former Arizonan teacher Tom Vick was killed and his wife, former mayor Diane Viuck was seriously injured when they intervened in a fight between their Boxer and their Cocker Spaniel.

When it comes to Boxers and children, it’s critical to teach young family members how to interact respectfully with Boxers.

We’ve all witnessed some examples of borderline behavior.

A parent posts a video of their child clambering all over a long-suffering Boxer. Lying on top of the dog, grabbing ears and what not.

Half the commenters think it’s adorable, a testament to what great temperaments Boxers have.

The other half react with horror, warning it’s only a matter of time before the child is mauled and the dog blamed.

At least half of all dog bites each year involve children.

Dogs responsible for attacks are inevitably euthanized.

Most tips for Boxer-owning parents are commonsense, such as:

  • Boxers that are eating should be given space. Even non-resource guarding Boxers may snap instinctively if they think someone is reaching for their raw meaty bone
  • Sick or injured Boxers should not be pestered
  • It’s also good practice to teach youngsters to leave sleeping Boxers alone and to not creep up on a Boxer
  • In a chaotic household, it’s a good idea to provide a den or space your Boxer can retreat to for some quiet time
  • Having children (and other humans) eat first and involving children in the feeding of the Boxer can help reinforce the dog’s status in the family hierarchy
  • Think carefully before allowing dogs to sleep in children’s beds — to a dog, sleeping together is what littermates do and may convey a relationship of equality, which can confuse the dog and give rise to behavioral issues

Are Boxers Used As Police Dogs?

The Boxer was officially recognized as a police dog in Germany in 1925.

Though most Boxers in the US are bred as companion dogs, the Boxer and his ancestors have performed a wide variety of roles over the years including:

  • Hunting
  • Fighting
  • Guard dogs
  • Messenger dogs in war. zones
  • Search and rescue
  • Seeing eye dogs
  • Therapy dogs

How Strong Is A Boxer’s Bite?

A Boxer’s bite can fracture bones.

Although the exact bite force of a Boxer is unknown, the Californian personal injury attorneys Bisnar Chase cite estimates of 230 PSI (pounds per square inch), saying that would make it one of the top five strongest bites of all domestic dog breeds.

According to Fuicelli &B Lee Injury Lawyers, the dog with the most powerful jaws is the Kangal Shepherd, a Turkish livestock guardian dog, with a bite force of 743 PSI.

Pit Bulls have a bite force of 235 PSI and Rottweilers 328 PSI.

A Malinois bites with 195 PSI of force.

To put that in context, a Great White Shark’s bite force is 4000 PSI, a Gorilla’s 1300 PSI and a Hyaena’s 1100 PSI.

Interestingly, a lion’s is only 650 PSI … while a human’s is a puny 126 PSI.

You could say the Boxer’s head structure is designed to bite.

Historically, the Boxer was used in hunting and in the bloodsports of bull and bear baiting.

The short muzzle and underbite were deliberately bred to allow dogs to clamp their jaws around their targets.

Some say the Boxer’s wide nostrils were also bred to help it breathe with jaws clamped on a target.

The creases on the side of a Boxer’s nose were to allow the blood of the quarry to drain away, so another story goes.

Why Does My Boxer Bite Me?

With all the talk of dangerous Boxers, you might be seeing your own Boxer’s behavior in a new light.

Remember that biting in Boxers puppies is a relatively normal, and passing, phase.

Still, here is how you can discourage your Boxer puppy from biting.

Similarly, growling in Boxers doesn’t always indicate aggression.

Here is what it means when a Boxer puppy growls and how to respond.

Do Boxer Dogs Bite Strangers?

Most of us know our dogs to be sweet, lovable members of the family.

Often we trust them with small children and babies, with whom we observe them to be long suffering and protective.

However, the dog bite statistics suggest we shouldn’t take the Boxer’s good nature for granted.

muzzle at vet when in pain

Will A Boxer Attack An Intruder?

Most of us tend to think the biggest threat our Boxer would pose to an intruder is death by licking. Boxers can be trained to guard, but this should only be done by someone who knows what they are doing and how not to brutalize the dog in the process.

Will Boxers Protect Their Owners?

It depends.

Protectiveness is a trait of the breed, but how that manifests depends a lot on the individual dog and the situation.

Boxers do have a knack for picking up on an owner’s emotions and so if you are radiating fear, who knows how your Boxer will react.

Boxer Dog Attacking Other Dogs

Boxers have a reputation for having more issues than the average breed in getting along with other dogs.

Factors that make a Boxer more likely to have a problem with another dog include the dog being:

  • Large breed
  • Adult
  • Same sex as the Boxer

Settings that are ripe for dog fights include:

  • Off leash dog parks and dog beaches
  • Dog daycare
  • In the home/on the territory of either dog
  • Feeding times
  • When one dog is on leash and the other free roaming
  • In close proximity to an owner/family member

Why Does My Boxer Attack My Other Dog?

While Boxers can get along great with other dogs, some owners do encounter trouble having Boxers as part of multidog households.

Dog dynamics are complex.

A lot goes on beneath the level of human awareness.

Sometimes two dogs can get along great until the younger dog reaches maturity and begins to challenge for dominance.

This may be more likely in households where the dogs lack strong and effective human leadership.

The most common problem with aggressive behavior in Boxers is thought to be territorial and dominance aggression toward other dogs of the same sex.

This can be especially true of female Boxers, with some rescue organizations refusing to place females with other females.

According to owners’ anecdotal reports, Boxers can also tend to hold grudges — once they clash seriously with another dog, the vendetta can be lifelong.

Some owners have had to resort to permanently separating the dogs with baby gates throughout the home.

Ultimately, if all else fails, it may be kinder to rehome one or other of the dogs to a single dog household.

Why Do Boxer Dogs Get Aggressive?

Of all the questions about dangerous Boxers, this is the most important.

One Boxer may have a rock solid temperament while the next is prone to aggression.

Even the one Boxer can be mild mannered in one situation yet ferocious in another.

So, what triggers a Boxer to become a danger to himself and others?

Here are 12 causes of aggression in Boxer dogs and what to do about it.

While inadequate socialization is a major cause of dogs becoming dangerous, overlooked causes of canine aggression include:

  • Diet
  • Medication
  • Vaccines
  • Neutering

Diet

A landmark study of 900 cats over ten years and nine generations in the 1930s discovered those fed cooked food rather than their natural diet of raw meat, bone and organs deteriorated in every measurable way including increased aggression.

The findings are applicable to dogs and indeed any species denied access to its natural diet, as is the case for every kibble-fed Boxer.

Here is why kibble is inappropriate food for a Boxer.

A properly composed raw diet will support your Boxer’s mental and physical wellbeing.

Medication

Commonly prescribed veterinary drugs like the steroid prednisone can make formerly placid dogs aggressive as well as cause psychiatric disturbances.

Here is a case study of what an 11-month course of high-dose prednisone did to an 18-month-old Boxer.

Vaccines

Holistic vets recognize a generalized loss of vitality and the development of chronic health conditions in vaccinated dogs, without them having shown a noticeable adverse reaction to the vaccine at the time.

a condition known as vaccinosis.

On his clinic website, veterinarian Dr Michael Dym describes a specific form of vaccinosis he’s seen result “fairly commonly” from the rabies vaccine.

The association of the rabies vaccine with significant adverse neurologic and other immune reactions is documented in the veterinary literature going back at least as far as the 1990s.

Among the many strange symptoms Dr Dym has seen result “fairly commonly” from the rabies vaccine are:

  • Aggression
  • Suspicion
  • Unusual fearfulness
  • Lack of impulse control

Neutering

It’s a common misconception that neutering or spaying a Boxer will curb aggression.

In fact, neutering has been associated with an increase in behavioral problems including aggression and noise phobias.

One way intact dogs can be more prone to conflict is that they may attract problems.

The theory is intact dogs smell different to neutered ones.

Your intact Boxer may be even tempered himself, but be on the receiving end of aggression in other males that perceive him as a reproductive threat.

Your dog may develop secondary reactivity as a result of these experiences.

Conclusion

A dog bite happens every 75 seconds in the United States, with 1000 Americans seeking emergency care for severe dog bites every day.

Each year, 9 500 people are hospitalized for dog bites.

So, aggression in dogs is a common problem across breeds.

While dangerous Boxers are usually dog aggressive… people can easily be caught in the crossfire.

So, it’s important to take aggression seriously in your Boxer, and ideally prevent it arising in the first place.

The causes of aggression can be complex and difficult to unravel.

If your Boxer is aggressive, it’s may well be time to seek professional help.

References

Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys, Boxer Dog Breed, Retrieved from website October 2021

Clifton, Merritt, Dog attack deaths and maimings, US & Canada September 1982 to December 31, 2014

Coren, Stanley, 14 Dog Breeds Blacklisted by Insurance Companies, Psychology Today, 2014

Coren, Stanley, PhD, Neutering Causes Behavior Problems in Male Dogs, Canine Corner, Psychlogy Today, May 9 2018

Dodds WJ. More bumps on the vaccine road. Adv Vet Med, 1999

Dog Bites: Boxer Dog Breed, Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys

2020 Dog Bite Fatalities, DogsBite.org, Retrieved from website October 2021

Dym, Michael, VMD, Safer Vaccine Guidelines for Dogs, DNM, 2019

Fuicelli and Lee Injury Lawyers, Dog Bite Statistics: By Breed, Fatal Dog Bites, and States With The Highest Fatality Rate, 2021

O’Hara, Patrick, Are Boxers A Dangerous Dog Breed? O’Hara Law Firm, 2020

Pottenger, Francis M, Jr, MD, Pottenger’s Cats: A Study in Nutrition, Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, 1983